The Maoists and villagers together killed nun-cum-activist Valsha John Nov 15 in Jharkhand's Pakur district and seven people have been arrested for the murder, police said on Sunday.
"We have arrested seven people in the murder of Valsha John. Villagers in connivance with the Maoists killed her. Around 45 people raided the house of John and nearly 30 were Maoists and the rest were villagers. We have arrested seven of the 15 villagers," said Arun Oraon, inspector general of police (Santhal Pargana).
Around 45 people on Nov 15 night raided Pachuwara village in the district, 500 km from Ranchi, and hacked-to-death John, 52, who hailed from Kerala's Ernakulam district.
John came to Jharkhand nearly a decade ago as a teacher in a mission-run school. Later, she opened a school and taught students up to Class 4.
She came out in support of people who were opposing displacement of local residents due to the Panem coal mines company in 2001. She earned the respect of the tribals for spearheading the movement against the coal mines. She opened a school on a land provided by the company.
According to Oraon, Valsha had to stay away from Pakur for 30 months due to personal reasons and her associates started managing the organisation and issues related to the displacement and rehabilitation in the area.
The officer said her associates developed greed for money and started opposing her when she came back to Pakur on Nov 7. Valsha was also posing a threat to the Maoists who saw her as a stumbling block in the expansion of their activities in the area.
Oraon said that the rape of an associate of Valsha and her demand for registration of a police case could have also been linked to her killing.
Valsha was pushing for a first information report (FIR) against the rapists. The rapists hatched the conspiracy with the villagers to kill her. The rape accused have been arrested and they have confessed to the murder, the officer said.